Sunday, April 22, 2012

In Search of Shakespeare

I'm on a little hiatus from drama -- both in my own life and on screen. April has been the month of documentaries and I have a few good ones to recommend.

Available on Netflix, In Search of Shakespeare, hosted by Michael Wood, consists of 4 hour-long episodes. Its beautifully filmed and conceptualized and Wood is an engaging tour guide. He strikes me as someone genuinely knowledgeable about history -- which somehow matters . . . there is a much stronger flavor of truth and meaning when you don't feel that you're watching an actor, but rather someone who really cares about the topic and can share his insights with you. Testament to this, when Wood is speaking with curators and experts who are sharing documents with him -- he reads along! In the insanely hard to visualize script of the Elizabethan draftsmen. Anyone who can read that stuff has to have spent some time with the subject matter.

The documentary is highly evocative of the time is explores. For instance, scenes where Wood guides us through the streets of London pointing out landmarks (present and vanished) giving the flavor of what Elizabethan London would have been like, are incredible.

Scattered throughout the work are excerpts from Shakespeare's plays performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. These are simply breathtaking. I know they always say this, but plays are meant to be performed, not read. You really see why that is when treated with a glimpse of these brilliant actors at the height of their craft performing Shakespeare. An incredible treat and great choice to include in the documentary.

I am not a Shakespeare expert. Just a fan. So I can't speak to the total accuracy and details, but I can certainly speak to its entertainment and educational value.

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